« AnteriorContinuar »
vent any such idea. The Hebrew word simply expresses falling prostrate, that is to say, falling down in an act of adoration : and Balaam clearly alludes to the attitude which he assumed, when first his eyes were opened to behold the Angel of Jehovah; he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. We have a similar reference to the same transaction in the words, which are annexed to those descriptive of his posture; I mean the words, having his eyes opened. When first he met the Angel, he saw him not ; but afterwards Jehovah opened his eyes ; and then he beheld the Angel of Jehovah standing in the way. Thus falling prostrate, and thus having his eyes opened ; he heard the words of God, and saw the apparition of the Almighty. Now what he heard, under such circumstances which he so anxiously brings forward and insists upon, were the words of the Angel; and what he saw, at the same time, was the anthropomorphic apparition of that mysterious being. Hence it follows, that the Angel, who then manifested himself, was God, even the Almighty. The whole mind of Balaam was so occupied with this awful visit, that he in fact takes the leading circumstances of it, as prominently descriptive of his own prophetic character, as constituting a mark or badge by which he might be known from any pretended seers of the now expiring Patriarchal Church. Balaam the son of Beor hath said, even the man whose eyes were opened hath said. He hath said, which heard the words of God, which
" Numb. xxii. 31.
saw the apparition of the Almighty ; falling prostrate, but having his eyes opened.
Here spoke the last voice of Patriarchism : for the Levitical dispensation, having been irdained in the wilderness, was now on the point, of being nationally established in the promised land, and of being thus set forth to the Gentiles as the future organ by which God would communicate with
The last true prophet therefore of the general house of Seth and of Noah was constrained by the Holy Spirit, with whatever reluctance, to pronounce the inauguration of a new system, to dissolve consequently the former system, and yet by announcing the future appearance of a victorious Saviour to leave the haply penitent Gentiles neither in despair nor in ignorance. Accordingly we find, that a lively expectation of some potent Deliverer and Reformer, the conqueror of the serpent and the progeny of the High Supreme, derived, partly from the longremembered discourse of Balaam, and partly from still more ancient Abrahamnic or Noëtic tradition, never ceased to prevail, with more or less distinctness, throughout the entire pagan world; until the eastern Magi, guided by a preterratural' meteor, came to seek the Star, who was destined to rise out of Israel and to exterminate all the Typhonian votaries of idolatry. From this time however, except through the medium of God's chosen people, the apostate children of Noah, who had adopted the worship of the creature rather than that of the Creator, had no intercourse with heaven:
so that, when at length the day-spring from on high visited them, they were found, notwithstanding some feeble scintillations of old patriarchal light, walking in gross darkness, and dwelling in the very land of the shadow of death,
1. Since Moses was the appointed prophet of the Levitical dispensation, we must obviously expect, that he would receive his commission from the same divine being who had manifested himself as the God and grand object of Patriarchisin, Accordingly, the very personage, who had appeared to the early fathers, appeared also to the Hebrew legislator.
While he was feeding the flock of Jethro in Horeb, he beheld a thicket blazing with fire. At first, he supposed it to be only some extraordinary natural phenomenon: for we are told, that he turned aside to see this great sight, why the bush was not burned. But, when he approached nearer to contemplate the spectacle, he then distinctly perceived the Angel of Jehovah in the midst of the flaming thicket.
Now in what light are we to consider the being, who is here denominated the Angel ? Are we to view him, as a mere created delegate of heaven: or are we to esteem him no less than God himself, though he bears the official appellation of a Messenger?
? As the narrative advances, we read, that, when JEHOVAH saw that he turned aside to see, GỌD called unto him out of the midst of the bush. The GOD JEHOVAH then was the being in the midst of the thicket; but we had just before been told, that the being, who appeared to Moses out of the midst of the bush, was THE ANGEL OF JEHOVAH : therefore THE ANGEL OF JEHOVAH is no other than THE GOD JEHOVAH himself.
Agreeably to this conclusion, the person, who was visibly manifested in the midst of the blazing thicket, doubtless, I think, from the analogy of those passages which have already been considered, under his usual form of a man: the person, who was thus visibly revealed, declares to Moses; I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Upon which Moses hides his face : for he was afraid to look upon God. Now the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, according to the express testimony both of the last patriarch and of the prophet Hosea, was the Angel of Jehovah : and this Angel of Jehovah is said to appear to Moses in the midst of the bush. Hence, we cannot doubt, that the person, who here solemnly claims to be the God of the Hebrew patriarchs, is that very Angel of Jehovah, who then appeared to Moses, and who had previously wrestled with Jacob in the form of a real and substantial man.'
2. Thus did Moses receive his commission from that Angel of Jehovah, who was professedly the God of the Patriarchal dispensation : and, agreeably to the tenor of it, we soon find the same divine personage acting a conspicuous part both in the exodus and in the entire pilgrimage of the children of Israel.
1 Exod. jji. 1-6.
When the chosen people quitted the land of Egypt, Jehovah, we are told, went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light; to go by day and by night.' This extraordinary appearance attended them during the whole of their wanderings : he took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. Jehovah then himself was in the pillar : the question therefore is, in what manner he was thus present. Now, scarcely has the divine presence been asserted, when we forthwith read, that the Angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them ; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.” Hence it is plain, that the mode, in which Jehovah was present in the cloudy and fiery column, was by the presence of his Angel : and this Angel is both called Jehovah, for it is said that Jehovah went before them in a pillar of a cloud ; and likewise acts under the special style and appellation of Jehovah, for we read that Jehovah looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and that he troubled the host of the Egyptians. The Angel therefore of Jehovah, here spoken of, must inevitably be, Jehovah himself, the God alike both of the Patriarchal and of the Levitical Church.
" Exod. xiii. 21. 3 Exod. xiv, 19.
2 Exod. xiii. 22. 4 Exod. xiv. 24.